Monday, May 11, 2020

With A Brooklyn Accent: An Open Letter to Governor Cuomo on Education Policy from Fordham Alum Carrie Anne Tocci

With A Brooklyn Accent: An Open Letter to Governor Cuomo on Education Policy from Fordham Alum Carrie Anne Tocci

An Open Letter to Governor Cuomo on Education Policy from Fordham Alum Carrie Anne Tocci


Dear Honorable Governor Cuomo:

I have respect for the Cuomo family.

My first full-time teaching job was at La Scuola D'Italia in Manhattan. Your mom visited once, and I found her to be eloquent when she spoke about the importance of education, and a one-on-one mentoring program in place in our state.  Your dad sat next to my mom when she was a member of a coalition of concerned moms who sought to raise the drinking age in our state in the '80s, following several tragic accidents.

I am an adoptee and in February, due to the amendment of  section 4138 of public health law you signed off on January 15, 2020, I received my original adoption papers--a landmark moment in my life. Personally, I appreciate your support with this issue, and leadership during this difficult time in our nation’s history, while we part ways on your recent comments in support of the Gates Foundation, and your wonderings about why the “old model” of education persists. 

As an educator, I do have some -- I hope -- useful feedback for you.

I've seen/heard other government representatives preach on education, following this up with the assignment of education leaders who have zero education experience/credibility. This suggests that anyone can teach or lead teachers who guide students.

I agree with you that we have been teaching 21st-Century learners with 20th-Century methods but we need to merge, not replace one for another but this must be done thoughtfully.  CONTINUE READING:
With A Brooklyn Accent: An Open Letter to Governor Cuomo on Education Policy from Fordham Alum Carrie Anne Tocci

Reopening L.A. schools amid the coronavirus will be pricey - Los Angeles Times

Reopening L.A. schools amid the coronavirus will be pricey - Los Angeles Times

Reopening schools will be pricey and complicated, L.A. schools chief warns


Although the school year in Los Angeles is set to begin in mid-August, the prospect of opening 900 campuses will rely on solutions for daunting and costly problems — including whether half a million students and their families would be tested for COVID-19, Supt. Austin Beutner said.
“There has been discussion about the need to have students with families tested, but no clear picture yet drawn as to where the tests would be provided and who will pay for them,” Beuntner said in an interview. His staff is working with state and local authorities and a team of UCLA experts on reopening protocols.
Two other major concerns include coming up with a plan — and funding — for supplying masks for students and staff, perhaps multiple masks a day for children, and sanitizing schools, he said.
“The top-to-bottom cleaning that will be necessary and appropriate is different than it might have been just a few months ago,” Beutner said. “Schools were cleaned every day, but not necessarily sanitized. It’s two different things. Sanitizing is more intensive, costs more.”
Beutner also spoke of the difficulty of managing students’ safely once they return to campus. He referenced research suggesting that a school environment ranks among the settings where infections would be more likely to spread, on par with college dorms and nightclubs.
As for masks: “Where will those come from? Are we buying them?” asked Beutner, who foresees difficult economic times.
The concern over finances is timely. Gov. Gavin Newsom this week is expected to release his revised budget proposal for next year — as measures to combat COVID-19 have decimated the state budget with a projected $54.3-billion deficit through the summer, the largest in state history. In a worst-case scenario, analysts forecast a 20% cut to education funding.
Beutner responded last week to that dire prospect in a joint statement with Cindy Marten, the superintendent of San Diego Unified, the second-largest district in California.
“That level of spending reduction would make it impossible for schools to safely reopen this fall,” the superintendents said. “There is no substitute for learning in a classroom setting and a total reliance on online learning may result in many, perhaps the majority of students, losing the equivalent of a year of their education, CONTINUE READING: Reopening L.A. schools amid the coronavirus will be pricey - Los Angeles Times

COVID-19 and the Latino Education Community - NEA Today

COVID-19 and the Latino Education Community - NEA Today

COVID-19 and the Latino Education Community 


On May 5, the National Education Association (NEA) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) partnered to host a virtual town hall to uplift the experiences of Latino students and educators impacted by coronavirus-related school closures nationwide, as well as share immigration updates from the National Immigration Law Center and mental health tips from the Hope Center for Wellness. When the pandemic forced families into isolation, it’s partnerships like these that make them more relevant to the communities they serve.
“So many [LULAC] councils have stepped up to the plate,” said Sindy Benavides, executive director of LULAC, the largest and oldest Hispanic organization in the U.S, adding that the “heart of LULAC has always been its members.”
For example, a LULAC member and an educator partnered with her local council to get laptops, which they didn’t already have, into the hands of her students so they could access their classroom and online learning.
Lack of technology coupled with lack of internet services has plagued communities of color for decades.
“We, [for years], have been talking about the technology gap between kids that have so much and kids that have so little,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, “and school boards, legislators, people who are very powerful politicians decide which kids get and which kids don’t get.”
She also underscored how some legislators think of technology as “something like CONTINUE READING: COVID-19 and the Latino Education Community - NEA Today

In the Classroom That Zoom Built - LA Progressive

In the Classroom That Zoom Built - LA Progressive

In the Classroom That Zoom Built

The Empire Has No Clothes

Do you hear that silence?




That’s the absence of footsteps echoing through our nation’s public school hallways. It’s the silence of teaching in a virtual space populated with students on mute who lack a physical presence. It’s the crushing silence of those who are now missing, who can’t attend the classroom that Zoom and Google built.
Maybe you heard the shouted pleas of teachers across the country last year as we walked out of our classrooms and into the streets, begging for affordable housinghealth care, and access to equitable funding and resources for our students? Or maybe you heard the impassioned screams of frightened kids as they stormed into the streets and onto the news, demanding safety and an end to the threat of gun violence in our nation’s school buildings? Now, there’s nothing left to hear.
Today, all we’re left with is a deafening silence that muffles the sound of so much suffering. The unfolding public health, mental health, and economic crisis of Covid-19 has laid bare the fragility of what was. The institutions charged with caring for and guiding our most valuable assets — our children — were already gutted by half a century of chronic underfunding, misguided curricular policies that prioritized testing over real learning, and social policies that favored austerity over taking care of the most vulnerable members of our society. Now that so many teachers are sequestered and alone or locked away with family, our bonds of proximity broken, we’re forced to stare into that void, scrambling to find and care for our students across an abyss of silence. The system is broken. The empire has no clothes.
Not so many weeks ago, I used to be a teacher in a sprawling public high school outside Portland, Oregon. Before the virus arrived, I taught painting, drawing, ceramics, and filmmaking in three CONTINUE READING: In the Classroom That Zoom Built - LA Progressive

Dana Goldstein: The Coronavirus Is Widening the Class Divide in Education - The New York Times

The Coronavirus Is Widening the Class Divide in Education - The New York Times

The Class Divide: Remote Learning at 2 Schools, Private and Public
Some private schools provide online luxury learning during the pandemic. As many public schools struggle to adjust, the nation’s educational gaps widen.

For Rachel Warach’s class, the 133rd morning of first grade, numbered on a poster board behind her, was similar to all of the previous mornings.

Her students from across Chicago spent 15 minutes working quietly on math problems and writing in their journals. They split into small reading groups, with Ms. Warach bouncing between them to offer feedback. Later, there was an Earth Day discussion of “The Lorax” and a math lesson on sorting everyday objects — rolls of tape, coins, pens — according to shape.

There was a break for lunch and recess, followed by Hebrew class. All as Oisabel sprawled on the floor, Shira snuggled against her mom, and a father whispered to his son, “Can you take that blanket off your head, please?”

This is first grade at a private school determined to make remote education during the coronavirus as similar as possible to what it looked like before the pandemic. Chicago Jewish Day School provides four hours and 15 minutes of daily live instruction, including yoga, art and music. Students even do messy baking projects over Zoom, with parents as sous chefs.

It bears little resemblance to the more typical experience that Jacob Rios is having in Philadelphia, where he attends first grade at a public school, Spruance Elementary. CONTINUE READING: The Coronavirus Is Widening the Class Divide in Education - The New York Times

A looming issue for schools: Teachers who can’t or won’t go back - Chalkbeat

A looming issue for schools: Teachers who can’t or won’t go back - Chalkbeat

A looming issue for schools: Teachers with health worries who can’t or won’t go back


Belinda Mckinney-Childrey has spent more than 30 years as a teacher. Before the pandemic, she thought she was about three years from retirement.
Coronavirus has her wondering whether to fast-track that decision. She has high blood pressure, a health condition that could put her at a higher risk for severe illness if she were to contract the coronavirus. A few weeks shy of her 62nd birthday, she’s close to the age group that the federal government has also warned is at higher risk.
And she wonders if social distancing could really work in her class when school buildings eventually reopen. She teaches sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students with autism and intellectual disabilities in Chicago, a job where close contact with students is just the daily reality. She’s willing to keep teaching remotely, but without a vaccine, she’s not sure it would be safe to step foot in her school.
“It’s very scary right now,” she said. “I can’t chance my health to go back. I love my job, I love what I do, but when push comes to shove, I think the majority of us will be like ‘I think we’re going to retire.’”
Belinda
Belinda Mckinney-Childrey pictured outside her classroom at Wentworth Elementary in Chicago.
 Photo courtesy Belinda Mckinney-Childrey
Across the country, teachers who are older or medically vulnerable — or who are afraid of putting a family member at risk — are beginning to weigh those risks. Though schools in most places have closed their doors for the school year, the federal government, states, and cities are all beginning to outline conditions for reopening school buildings. Meanwhile, testing is lagging, and there is new evidence to suggest children can transmit the virus.
That leaves school districts to grapple with a big problem on the horizon: what to do if buildings are open, but many teachers and staffers don’t feel safe coming in.
“What is super complicated is this question CONTINUE READING: A looming issue for schools: Teachers who can’t or won’t go back - Chalkbeat

AP tests begin, amid controversies

AP tests begin, amid controversies

AP Testing to Begin, Amid Controversies
New, shorter tests will be given at the same time all over the world.




Today, at noon Eastern time, Advanced Placement testing begins for the 2020 year, with the Physics C: Mechanics exam. At 4 p.m. the test will be given in government and politics, and so forth through two weeks of AP exams.
In the Western part of the United States, the tests will be at the same time, meaning the physics test will be at 9 a.m. and the government test will be at 1 p.m. That's because the tests are being given in a take-home version this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three million students will be taking the tests. And the same time applies to those abroad, too. So in Britain (where there are AP students), the government test starts at 9 p.m. In India (where there are also AP students), the test starts at 1:30 a.m. tomorrow. In China, at 4 a.m. tomorrow. Many of the students taking AP abroad are the American children of soldiers or workers in foreign countries.
The tests are seen by many as a key not only for high school, but for college admissions. Even at the many colleges that have (historically) discouraged students from earning college credit with AP courses, they use AP courses in college admissions. Success in AP courses is viewed as a key sign that students have taken rigorous courses in high school.
According to the College Board, the changes it has made in AP testing protect student safety and assure colleges that want to give students credit (or admissions help) that the tests and their results have been valid. But critics say that the arrangements discriminate against those taking the test outside the U.S. and those with disabilities -- and that the AP this year is so different that it degrades the program's reputation.
How the Tests Will Be Given
The timing of the tests is only one of the differences this year.
The AP exams will only include material that most teachers cover in their courses by March. "To be fair to all students, some of whom have lost more instructional time than others, the exam will only include topics and skills most AP teachers and students have already covered in class by early March," the College Board said.
In addition, the tests will be open book, including notes students have. The College Board is even providing students with tips on how to take an open-book exam.
This year's exams will also be shorter: 45 minutes instead of three hours.
Grading will be the same -- on a scale of 1 to 5.
As for the odd times for international students to take the exams, Zachary Goldberg, a College Board spokesman, said via email, "While normally AP students can test at different times, the unique security protocols required for at-home testing only allow one global time for tests and makeups. Because no single time is convenient for all students, the specific times were selected to enable the largest number of AP students worldwide to test in daylight hours. Our only other alternative would have been to cancel exams in certain time zones entirely. We hope that for the students in time zones with inconvenient test times, having the chance to test outweighs concerns about the unusual times."
The Critics CONTINUE READING: AP tests begin, amid controversies

The True—and Inspiring—Story of “Lord of the Flies” | Diane Ravitch's blog

The True—and Inspiring—Story of “Lord of the Flies” | Diane Ravitch's blog

The True—and Inspiring—Story of “Lord of the Flies”



William Golding’s novel about a group of adolescent boys who are stranded and create their own society has been a staple of English classes for many years. It is a cautionary tale about the brutality that lies within the human heart.
Dutch historian Rutger Bregman was fascinated by the story but unpersuaded by its thesis. In this article in The Guardian, he describes his search for a counter-narrative, which culminated in success. He discovered a true story of a group of boys from Tonga (in the South Pacific) who were marooned for 15 months. What they did to survive is very different from the boys in Lord of the Flies.
Bregman’s article is fascinating.
He begins:
For centuries western culture has been permeated by the idea that humans are selfish creatures. That cynical image of humanity has been proclaimed in films and novels, history books and scientific research. But in the last 20 years, something extraordinary has happened. Scientists from all over the world have switched to a more CONTINUE READING: The True—and Inspiring—Story of “Lord of the Flies” | Diane Ravitch's blog

Why Teachers Should Reject Results-Based Accountability - Teacher Habits

Why Teachers Should Reject Results-Based Accountability - Teacher Habits

Why Teachers Should Reject Results-Based Accountability


We may be in the middle of a pandemic but Chester Finn is worried about the tests. He’s not alone. Education reformers like Finn who’ve dedicated the last couple of decades to test-based school accountability are nervous about the growing backlash that threatens to undo their considerable efforts.
Finn, in this article, acknowledges the many problems with our test-driven education system but concludes that it’s not really the tests that are the problem. It’s accountability. Teachers, like everyone else, don’t want to be responsible for their students’ results. He sees tests as nothing more than an unwelcome messenger and asserts that “if testing vanished but some other form of results-based accountability remained, educators would complain just as much—and work just as hard to recruit allies among parents and others to discredit them.”
Finn is right. Educators would complain just as much. We would enlist others to our cause. We would continue to stomp our feet, inveigh, and even strike against whatever results-based accountability system CONTINUE READING: Why Teachers Should Reject Results-Based Accountability - Teacher Habits

"How Are You Doing With Teaching in This Pandemic?" Not So Well… | Eclectablog

"How Are You Doing With Teaching in This Pandemic?" Not So Well… | Eclectablog

“How Are You Doing With Teaching in This Pandemic?” Not So Well…


Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.
A friend asked me how I was doing during this pandemic, and I thought I’d share my perspective as a teacher who has struggled to find my footing in our new reality…
How am I doing, you ask?
To be honest, not well. I’ve been a teacher for 40 years now, and I really love teaching. I love the interactions with my students, and colleagues. I loved teaching high school band for 10 years–I couldn’t believe I got paid to make music with kids–and I really get a thrill now out of helping my college students find their voices as musicians and teachers, and helping them to realize their dreams; whether that’s being a middle school chorus teacher, or an early childhood music teacher, or a freshly minted college professor.
But I didn’t go into teaching to invite students to a Zoom meeting, wear a pair of noise-canceling headphones, and talk through a mic to a Brady-Bunch-style laptop screen where my most frequent advice is to remind my students to “unmute” their microphones. It feels artificial, and stale, and impersonal. Few of my favorite teaching “moves” translate very well to online instruction–no one has figured out how to rehearse a band virtually, CONTINUE READING: "How Are You Doing With Teaching in This Pandemic?" Not So Well… | Eclectablog

Message to Cuomo: Remote Learning Is a Stopgap, Not a Solution | Diane Ravitch's blog

Message to Cuomo: Remote Learning Is a Stopgap, Not a Solution | Diane Ravitch's blog

Message to Cuomo: Remote Learning Is a Stopgap, Not a Solution



The Syracuse, New York, journal has sound advice for Andrew Cuomo: Remote Learning is a stopgap. Parents and students want real teachers and real schools. Stop musing about “reimagining” education. Your musings are unsound. Listen to parents and teachers. Let the Board of Regents and the New York State Education Fepartnent do their job.
The editorial begins:
Parents, teachers and students had barely come to terms with the cancellation of the rest of the school year when Gov. Andrew Cuomo dropped another bomb: Maybe, he mused, going to school in person is simply obsolete in the age of coronavirus.
The reaction from educators and parents was swift and fierce. Aides later walked back the governor’s ambiguous and tone-deaf inference that remote instruction could replace the face-to-face kind, saying it would be a supplement.


It can’t be a replacement. You know this if you are a parent with children learning at home for the past seven weeks, or a teacher trying to instruct those students. We see firsthand much is lost in translation from classroom to computer screen. It may be necessary to use remote CONTINUE READING: Message to Cuomo: Remote Learning Is a Stopgap, Not a Solution | Diane Ravitch's blog

Cuomo Taps Bill Gates as NY’s New Education Consultant. Sadly, the Times Are Not a Changing | janresseger

Cuomo Taps Bill Gates as NY’s New Education Consultant. Sadly, the Times Are Not a Changing | janresseger

Cuomo Taps Bill Gates as NY’s New Education Consultant. Sadly, the Times Are Not a Changing



Bill Gates seems to have become this spring’s go-to gazillionaire.  Over the years his foundation has undertaken to fund medical work in Africa and public school policy and governance experiments across the United States.  And so… soon after the coronavirus pandemic reached American shores, Judy Woodruff had Bill Gates on the PBS NewsHour as an expert on world health. And now New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo has announced a partnership with Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to “reimagine” New York state’s public schools after the pandemic.
Fortunately, for covering the medical issues in the pandemic, Woodruff quickly replaced Gates with Dr. Anthony Fauci,  Dr. Ashish Jha from Harvard University’ Global Health Institute, and a host of other epidemiologists who really are experts. Big foundation people do fund work by experts, but they are not themselves usually the experts.
Isn’t it ironic? These days we are honoring nurses, ambulance drivers, foodbank workers, and teachers as heroes, but when we want advice we feel compelled to seek the guidance of celebrities like Bill Gates, especially if they have made billions of dollars in the tech industry. We like to assume that extremely successful people know how to be successful. And we admire billionaire philanthropists as successes. They have, after all, made a lot of money.
But the Gates Foundation’s record in public education exposes Gates and the so-called experts at his foundation as not really expert at all. What we have instead is a list of failed experiments. The record of Gates and Gates Foundation investment in education is dismal.
  • In 2007, the Gates Foundation funded The Turnaround Challenge, a guide for “quickly and dramatically” improving test cores in America’s “worst performing schools.”  The report and its guidance focused school reformers obsessively on test scores and promoted the idea that schools can be rapidly turned around with the help of consultants and experts.  But rapid school turnaround didn’t work; very few struggling schools on their own, it turns out, have been able rapidly to raise students’ test scores. Unfortunately, we now know that schools alone are unlikely to overcome the ravages of concentrated family poverty. Other reforms such as Community Schools with CONTINUE READING: Cuomo Taps Bill Gates as NY’s New Education Consultant. Sadly, the Times Are Not a Changing | janresseger